Florida, United States (Sputnik) – A US Marine Corps (USMC) Colonel was among 277 people arrested as part of a massive sting operation to break up a prostitution and human trafficking ring in Florida, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Col. Kevin Scott was arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor.
Scott was one of the hundreds arrested in “Operation No Tricks, No Treats,” a sting carried out by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The 51-year-old colonel allegedly attempted to solicit sex work for $80 from an undercover detective, and he also drove a government-leased car to the meeting place.
“We had to call the government and say, ‘Hey would you like to come get your leased car ’cause your colonel is on the way to the county jail,'” the Tampa Bay Times quoted Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd as saying.
“[Scott] lied to us,” Judd added. “He said he was retired and he was no longer in the Marine Corps. That’s not true.”
Marine Corps spokesman Master Sgt. Ryan O’Hara said in a statement that Scott was assigned to Joint Staff Suffolk, Virginia. Scott had joined the military as a young man in 1984 and had served as a logistics officer. He had been promoted to Colonel in 2016. At the time of his arrest on Saturday, Scott was serving as a desk officer at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on a temporary assignment.
“Everything’s under investigation now,” O’Hara said, adding that the USMC may take more action in the future.
“Operation No Tricks, No Treats” was meant to crack down on online prostitution and human trafficking in Polk County by posting fake advertisements online and then arresting those who offered them. The arrests have led to 36 felony and 298 misdemeanor charges, according to the Sheriff’s Office, with more to follow. Fifty-one of the arrestees were those who advertise online as sex workers.
Arrested people included a cancer surgeon, a retired Air Force veteran, two retired police officers and a high school teacher. Judd said it was “the most we have ever arrested in the history of the sheriff’s office.”
Also among those arrested was Luis Diaz, a reputed Polk County police officer. “We caught one of our own,” Judd said of Diaz. “We are absolutely, unequivocally embarrassed…. It’s the power of sex, it gets you arrested and ends your career. [Diaz] was a competent line supervisor for us. He made a bad choice.”
“We are committed to fighting human trafficking, by arresting those who engage in prostitution and trying to identify human trafficking victims. It’s no secret. You need to stay out of Polk County if you’re going to commit crime.”
This report prepared by Sputnik